Another Lesson Learned

As I journey through the adventure of publishing with a new platform, I learned something new this weekend. First, the good news. My novella is done. Ebook available everywhere. The paperback is done and available … well, some places.

I set a publication date of August 29, thinking that meant the book would be available at on-line retailers that day. Nope. That just means that’s the day the Draft2Digital makes it available to retailers and those retailers can take up to a couple of weeks to put it up on their websites. So … the novella is up on one, waiting on another, and who knows on the smaller retailers that I don’t even know about.

With that done and out of the way, I moved to finalizing a collection of short stories I decided to publish as well. The process went so much more smoothly the second time around. Until it didn’t.

Here’s what I learned. Kobo and Apple will not accept any books that include reference to their “competitors.” So, when I uploaded the ebook and pushed publish, I got an email a couple of hours later letting me know that Kobo and Apple had rejected it.


Because on the “Also by” page, I include my social media references and I also mentioned that I now have a podcast and I described the podcast as being available on Spotify, Apple and other podcast platforms. I also mention at the very end of the collection a story I included that had previously been published as an ebook only for Kindle.

So … I deleted those offensive references and have pushed publish again. For both the ebook and paperback. I have to laugh at Kobo and Apple’s policies. Like it’s going to hurt their business if a book includes a reference to Amazon or Kindle or Spotify. Just kind of ridiculous.

A Tale of Two Indie Authors

Numbers are hard to come by in publishing. However, I have come across two indie authors who have put their numbers out for everyone to see, in the hope that their their experiences will help other indie authors succeed. Neither of the authors are at the extreme limits of either pole, success or failure, but they represent good examples of the common experience towards either of those poles.

Let’s start with Ron Vital. I’ve updated this post with a link to his 2022 blog post. He has a full time job and writes on the side. Ron has been an indie author since 2011. He writes fairy tale and adventure fantasy with female leads. To date I believe he has 14 works of fiction and 5 non-fiction books. Each year since 2013 (save for 2019) he has posted on his blog, his experiences in self-publishing during that year. You can find his 2022 blog post here: It includes links to his other year end reports, all of which are well worth reading since he is an author who has tried all the different strategies that have been proposed to sell books over the years – mailing lists, advertising, free promotions, perma-free first books, you name it. He goes over how each of them worked, or didn’t work for him. He also reports his sales numbers, which I have collected below.

However, here are the numbers he has reported;

2011 – sales $295 expenses $200 3 fiction book

2012 – sales $295 expenses $500 lost $205 4 fiction

2013 – sales $295 expenses $500 lost $205 4 fiction

2014 – sales $607 expenses $1,055 lost $448 6 fiction

2015 – sales $1,002 expenses $1,729 lost $727 8 fiction

2016 – sales $1,188 expenses $2,842 lost $1,654 9 fiction 1 non-fiction

2017 – sales $854 expenses $4,856 lost $4,002 10 fiction 2 non-fiction

2018 – sales $611 expenses $3,121 lost $2,510 12 fiction 2 non-fiction

2019 – sales $1,047 expenses $2,542 lost $1,495 13 fiction 2 non-fiction

2020 – sales $1,596 expenses $2,173 lost $577 13 fiction 4 non-fiction

2021 – sales $2,258 expenses $4,256 lost $1,998 14 fiction 5 non-fiction

To sum them up, he has lost $13,494 in 10 years of self publishing.

As a business, losing $13,494 in ten years is not the type of result you’d want to see. But that’s looking at the glass half empty. Looking at it half full, as he does, he would argue that he’s in it for the long term. He’s building his intellectual property and learning skills that are laying the groundwork for a long career. To put that loss in perspective, someone might be able to pick up a second hand pop-up camper for that amount – and spend several weekends a year using it – it’s matter of priorities.

If we look a little closer at his numbers for 2021, he gave away 24,819 books as perma-free first books in his various series, advertising them in Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, and Freebooksy. But even giving away these first books for free only resulted in 523 books sold at full price. Plus, in his early indie publishing years, he’s given away at least 30,000 copies of his books as well via various promotions.

Given all the effort he has put into his publishing venture, I have to say that it seems that the stories he wants to write are not the stories an economically viable group of Amazon readers want to read. There are readers for every type of book. But if you are writing to make money, you need to focus your efforts on bestselling genres, and write books that deliver what those readers expect. And then spend a ton of money promoting them.

Speaking of a ton of money, we now turn to the indie author of science fiction, space fantasy, and writing advice non-fiction, Chris Fox. Chris Fox has been a full time indie publisher since at last 2016. Since 2016 he has posted an annual video on YouTube showing his results and analyzing them. You can find all these year end videos here: For most years, he reports his sales numbers plus his expense. From his gross sales he pays himself a salary, and charges his healthcare costs and various book related expenses, like editing, advertising, covers, taxes etc. against his gross income, with any balance going into savings or into future projects. Below are his gross sales numbers on Amazon – on which he sells exclusively.

2016 – $170,000 9 fiction 5 non-fiction books on writing and marketing books.

2017 – $180,050 14 fiction 6 non-fiction

2018 – $194,900 17 fiction 7 non-fiction

2019 – $354,620 20 fiction 8 non-fiction

2020 – $272,288 29 fiction 8 non-fiction

2021 – $189,978 35 fiction 8 non-fiction

To achieve and maintain this level of sales, Chris spends upwards of $20,000 a year on advertising. He has written books on how to advertise, as well as how to write 5,000 words a day, and on various other aspects of indie publishing. They are in fact, some of his best selling books. In addition to spending a great deal of money promoting his books, he spends a great deal of time writing and managing his sales – the 12 to 15 hours per day type of time. However, in the last two years he’s had a young child in the house and not only has had to cut back a little, but hasn’t had 8 hours of sleep since his son was born.

Long story short, this type of sales involves spending both a lot of money and a lot of time to build and maintain the business. And even so, you will note the decline in sales over the last two years. despite the fact that he released 15 new books in that period, as well as a number of boxed sets that I didn’t include in my book total numbers.

He has responded to this downturn like all businesses, by cutting expenses. He now does things that he used to farm out to others. He claims he’s doing better than ever, but, like Ron Vital, he’s a glass is half full sort of person, so I take that with a grain of salt.

In 2021 he started releasing to books in his 10 volume fantasy series, in which he writes longer books, but fewer of them. He spent something like $15,000 on the first book to launch this new series, and it hadn’t earned back that investment in March 2022. However he launched two sequels with almost no advertising, so that the series as a whole was in the black to the tune of some $8,000 plus, in March, with more sequels on the way.

However, what I think what we’re seeing here is what happens when you burnout your readers with too many books released in too short of time – which paradoxically you have to do in the fast lane of indie-publishing just to stay on the radar of the avid, book or two a week (or more) readers. Such a pace may well burn out authors as well. Indeed, Chris, in his 2021 report talks about cutting back to two, and perhaps even one book a year going forward, as well as the need to develop other income streams.

Pick your poison. Be careful what you wish for. Be happy with what you are doing.

And The Winner is …

Mark Paxson

My journey through new publishing platforms has produced a winner. To recap … I’ve used KDP (and the old CreateSpace) for everything I’ve published until now. But I wanted to give expanded distribution a try and get away from Amazon’s dominance.

Because Draft2Digital (D2D) is completely free to set up, while IngramSpark (IS) charges a fee for set up (unless they’re running a special, which they are this summer), I started with D2D. The e-book set up went remarkably easy, but it does over at KDP as well. For whatever reason, it is easy to accept a Word version of a manuscript, a PDF for the cover, and produce an e-book.

The advantage of D2D over Smashwords, is that D2D does all of the necessary formatting to be able to publish it in all of the different e-book formats. Just upload a Word document and it’s basically done. My e-book is now available on seven different e-book platforms with three more to come.

Which brings me to the paperback. Just as with KDP, it simply is not as easy to upload a manuscript and get to a suitable document for either D2D or IS.

When I went to the print book page for my book, D2D disclosed that their print book platform is in beta and that you have to send an email asking to be included. I’m not thrilled with a beta project, but sent the email anyway.

While waiting for a response, I started the paperback process over at IS. I did all the account set up stuff and arrived at a page that said my account setup was 100% complete and I could start the book process. So, I did, but it wouldn’t let me upload anything because my account set-up wasn’t complete! I tried it a couple of times without success so I sent an email to customer service. They responded and asked if I was sure the account setup page said 100% complete. I assured them it did and was told my issue required a higher level of customer support. So, I waited.

While I waited I got the email from D2D that I could do my paperback there. Ignoring my qualms about the beta aspect of it, I went over to D2D and started their process. I was able to get to the point of uploading the interior. And well…

D2D allows you to upload in several different formats. I started with Word. When I was able to review it on their digital viewer, there were a number of problems, including the page numbering was screwed up and they had monkeyed with the paging of the front matter, leaving the first page of the story on the left-hand page. There are some editing tools they have to address these kinds of problems, but none of those tools worked to change anything.

I tried uploading the PDF instead, thinking that a PDF is pretty much frozen in place, so the issues that cropped up with the Word version shouldn’t be there. Nope. Exact same issues.

So … another email to customer service with D2D.

And I waited. I sent an email to IS asking when I would hear something. I got no response for four days. Meanwhile, D2D got back to me and encouraged me to try the editing tools, which I already had tried. And while I waited, I finally heard back from IS that my account issue had been resolved.

So … with D2D blocked, I went back to IS. I uploaded the interior. I got an error message that there were embedded fonts that needed to be unembedded. I have no idea how to do that, even looking at Google. I sent it to my sister who unembedded them. I uploaded it again and got an error message that all fonts have to be embedded. Sigh. I mean, really … sighin’ sigh.

Back to D2D … I had an two day conversation with several writers on Twitter. Each of whom have used D2D and/or IS. Yesterday, I decided to strip out all of the page and section breaks from the Word document and put them back in only where they were really needed. I converted that new version to PDF and uploaded to D2D and … bingo!!! It went through. The page numbering is correct. The first page of the story is on the righthand page.

But now I needed my cover re-sized. I just got that new cover and uploaded it today. Everything was accepted and the proof copy is on its way to me.

Why does this have to be so hard? What publishing horror stories do you have? What do you do to try to avoid this pitfalls?

Oh, and one other thing. At the same price point, my royalty on the paperback from D2D is $1.00 more than from IS.

Draft2Digital (Part 2)

Great minds think alike. I was planning on posting this later this week, but since Mark has posted about his experiences with Draft2Digital in the post below, I’ll post mine now as a companion piece to his.

Ebook publisher Draft2Digital purchased Smashwords earlier this year. While the merger won’t be completed for something like another year, I was curious to see what D2D was all about, especially their beta program for print on demand books. I’d like to not only change the size of my paperback books, but offer them to selected bookshops. And since I know that bookshops don’t look favorably on Amazon, I’m looking for a (cheap) alternative POD service.

However, before I get to print books, I’ll give you an overview of D2D’s ebook process. They offer a series of videos on how to do things on their platform. I watched most of one, but being an old hand at ebook production, I figured I knew what I was doing. And mostly, I did. If you have set up your book with either Amazon or Smashwords the process will be familiar – up to a point. You start by supplying all the usual information about your book. All that is different here is the graphics, and the fact that they accept a wider variety of formats, including LibreOffice, which is the free program I use to write my books, so that I don’t have to convert them to Word like I do on Smashwords and Amazon.

But when it comes to downloading your manuscript, things change. You should only download the body of your book – chapter one to the end – because D2D will give you the option to add a title page, a copyright page, a dedication page, an “also by” page, an email signup page, a teaser page, and a bio pager and a publisher pages. You choose what extra pages you want, and add the necessary data, like the text of the dedication, your bio, etc. The “also by” page automatically includes the books published by D2D – but not others.

One issue I had was that the copyright page defaults for new books, so that if you bring an older book into the system it will show that it was copyrighted in 2022, with no option to change it. It is my understanding that you cannot copyright a work again unless there are very significant changes to it. While I doubt that the copyright police will pounce on you for this, it is an issue. The work around is fairly simple, do not include a dedicated copyright page, but add the copyright info to the dedication page.

As for the look of ebooks, they offer various artwork for chapter headings, that are related to the type of story the book is, if that’s your jam. The preview showed the text ragged right, but I believe that is handled by the ebook reader software, so it would probably appear justified on the reader.

As for distribution – they offer the usual suspects, plus a German and a French ebook store. They also offer expanded service to libraries. They did not let me price my books for free, at least on pre-order. I only signed up for those two stores that Smashwords doesn’t serve, and have zero expectations. I assume Smashwords titles will just seamlessly merge into D2D’s system when the time comes.

Now, on to paper books. Their system works much the same way as the ebook version. There are two ways to make a paper book; you can download your formatted book as a document or a PDF or you can use your ebook text and cover for the print on demand paper book.

I tried the first way, using both the LibreOffice and PDF versions of a paperback book that I worked up for Amazon in the new size. In both cases, the program messed up the title pages, which in turn, threw off the interior, so that the book started on the left hand page. I could find no way to fix the problem.

Next, I tried their ebook to paperback method. It worked as advertised. The default look is that the spine and back cover are a solid color, with your blurb on the top of the back cover. You can then add more stuff to fill it up. Stuff like your photo, bio, or some other images. You can also arrange the spine as you like; with either your name on the top of the spine or the title of the book, Plus you can add a publisher’s icon to the spine as well. They also allow you to use your own wrap-around cover. I tried this method using the cover I had made according to Amazon’s requirements, and it worked, even though the page count was different.

There are several drawbacks to this method, however. The first is simply a matter of personal preference. Using the ebook version of your story, the title page is page one. I don’t know how this strikes you, but for me it screams self-published/vanity press. A title page should be page 3 or page 5, if you have a frontispiece. The first page should be some type of blurb, the second; a “other books by this author” page, the third page, the title page, the fourth; the copyright page, the fifth; the dedication page, and the sixth, a map or a blank page facing the start of the story. That said, if you don’t mind opening the book to the title page, you’re good to go.

The second issue in using the ebook text for your paper version is that I believe it uses the font size of your ebook text. I use 12 pt text on the screen, and for a 5.25×8” book 12 pt seems a bit large. Because of this, my 2D2 version of my test book came in at 416 pages compared to 362 pages for the one I formatted myself with a slightly smaller font size.

The third concern I had was that D2D’s default price for this book was $19.99 which would pay you a royalty of about $2.35, compared to the book’s current Amazon price of $12.00. You can adjust the price, but cheapest I could price this book at was $14.99, yielding a $.20 royalty. Now, I don’t know how much I would make if my Amazon book was sold elsewhere, probably not much more than that. But I can certainly make a lot more money selling it on Amazon, where it is far more likely to sell. My other concern is how much an author’s copy would cost using this service, and how that system works. I didn’t dare to go that far into the system to find out.

Bottom line; if you are comfortable with a title page on page one, I think you could add enough info on the back cover to make it look halfway decent. Better yet would be creating your own wrap around cover if you’re comfortable doing that. I wonder if using a slightly smaller text for your ebook version would reduce the page count of the paper version. Ebook readers control the type size on their devices, so it shouldn’t matter.

I also explored their audiobook options. Basically, they have partnered with another company that will waive their usual set-up fees. It looks to be a company that will match your book with a narrator, but you can use your own existing audiobook as well. I can’t say too much more about this, as I didn’t go very deeply into it, as I didn’t feel like signing up for yet another service. But it is something I may look into at a later date.

So that’s my experience with D2D. They offer a lot of benefits and tie-ins with other companies that you might find helpful. But all in all, I don’ t think anyone with books on Smashwords is missing anything too important. Everything will come to those who wait.

Another Publishing Journey

Mark Paxson

Last year, I put up a few posts about my efforts to get an agent for a novel I published last year. None of those efforts were successful and I tired of the process rather quickly and went with self-publishing. I used the KDP platform for the e-book and paperback, like I’ve done with everything I published (except for one book I’ll discuss more below).

Chalk me up as one of those writers who isn’t happy with the Amazon monopoly. While it’s great that Amazon provides such access to indie authors, it comes at a price. Almost complete exclusivity. Whatever it is that their expanded distribution network does, it’s never produced any sales for me. And their exclusivity doesn’t do much for my bottom line.

Yes, I’ve had some page reads through the Kindle Unlimited program, which I believe you can only access as a writer if you commit to Amazon’s exclusivity. But it’s never been enough to make a huge difference.

I recently finished a novella and I’m also putting together a collection of short stories that will be published shortly after the novella. The platforms I’ve considered using to break out of the Amazon rut were Smashwords, Draft2Digital (which is merging with Smashwords in a few months), and IngramSpark.

I know writers who use Smashwords exclusively. I tried it once with one of my early books and found the process of formatting a manuscript to be able to feed it into their program that produces an e-book in all the different e-book variations to be mind-numbing and complicated. I didn’t really want to go through that again. But … I did think about it.

Audrey Driscoll recommended Draft2Digital, or at least suggested looking into it. So, I did. I liked what I saw. No charge to setup and they produce both e-books and paperbacks and even have an audiobook option (sort of). Added bonus — they take less than Amazon does for e-books.

Smashwords promises wide distribution of e-books across the various platforms. So, too does Draft2Digital. And IngramSpark. Here are the platforms Draft2Digital can send an e-book to:

BorrowBox, Vivlio, Baker & Taylor, Tolino, Scribd, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Hoopla, Bibliotheca, and OverDrive.

You can select whichever of these you want your e-book to be marketed on. I selected all of them. Preparing the manuscript and uploading it along with the cover was remarkably easy. Even easier than KDP, which is ridiculously easy when it comes to an e-book. And 1000% easier than Smashwords (unless they’ve improved their process since I tried it around ten years ago).

Within a few hours, the book became available for pre-order on half of those platforms. The interesting thing is that Amazon requires documentation and information that none of the other platforms do. I hade to answer several questions, describe my previous publishing experience on Amazon (in terms of publishing there) and indicate that this book was not already available on Amazon. And then, eventually send an email to Draft2Digital that confirms everything I said in response to the questions asked on their website.

Once I submitted all of that, the approval from Amazon came pretty quickly, but the book still doesn’t show up there. So … we will see.

The easy part was over. I switched to the paperback and … learned that Draft2Digital’s paperback publishing is still in beta and you had to send an email asking to be let in to the beta. I sent the email, but then decided I wasn’t sure I wanted to publish during the beta.

I switched over to IngramSpark to publish the paperback. They have an equally wide distribution for paperbacks and one advantage to both Draft2Digital and IngramSpark is that bookstores are more willing to take paperbacks from them. Some bookstores refuse to take paperbacks from Amazon. So … I started the process.

I went through all the account set up and got to the page where the site confirmed my account set up was 100% complete and I could go to My Dashboard and start working on the book. I did that, went through a couple of screens that are similar to KDP’s and Draft2Digital’s and just before I got to the point where I could upload the manuscript and cover, I got a popup. “Thou shalt go no further until you complete Account Setup.” Okay, it wasn’t quite that biblical, but it was close. I clicked on the link to complete setup and it took me to the page that says my account setup is 100% complete.

And that’s where my paperback resides at the moment. I got a response back from Draft2Digital that I can enter the hallowed halls of their paperback beta and I have communicated to IngramSpark’s customer service to find out what’s going on over there. The first response asked me if the Account Setup page really told me that it was 100% complete. I went back and looked and said, “yes!” The next response was that this would require a higher level of customer care than he could reply. That was 24 hours ago. Here I wait.

I may start the Draft2Digital Beta and see how that works for me.

I’ll provide an update as things progress, but for now, even with the complication over the paperback, I’m cautiously optimistic about this path I’ve opted for with this book. Wider distribution (hard as it may be to believe, not everybody has a Kindle), ease of publication.

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

Mark Paxson

When I started my writing journey around 20 years ago, I came up with what I believe was a simple idea for my first novel. Since then, my ideas have become more and more complex. It’s one of the reasons I have struggled with writer’s block — the idea that I cannot see these more complicated stories to completion.

I have a half dozen half-completed novels that I struggle mightily with when I dip my toe back in every now and then.

And so it is today. I’m about to publish a novella and a short story collection. And with those nearing fruition, I started turning towards something else while I wait for that process to wind down.

A couple of days ago, I started reading a story I started in 2015. One that could be, should be, a novel. As I’m reading it, I love what I’ve done with the first 7 or 8 chapters, which span almost 20,000 words. I’m concerned though that maybe there are too many darlings in the story. Ultimately, however, my biggest concern is that I have bitten off more than I can chew with this effort. In two different ways.

First, can I write the path these characters are taking and get to the ending. I think I can do that. It’s the second issue that is problematic.

I start stories with a certain flow, a certain vibe, and then I become convincned that I can’t carry that flow or vibe through to the end. There are things I’m doing with this story that … well … it’s a dystopian story where I can kind of make up the rules as I go. It’s led to some fun stuff, a certain amount of freedom in the telling, but once started, I feel like that fun and freedom and rule-making needs to carry through each chapter. And it’s a hard thing to do.

I’m torn between cutting to the ending, which will leave it as a novella and with a whole lot of holes in the possible story, or gritting my teeth and grinding through a longer version of the tale. Something that has baffled me so far whenever I try to sit down with this story. Which way do I go? I want to tell the full tale, to not skip ahead to the ending. I want to fill those holes up with the kind of vibe I started the story with. But I don’t know if I can do it and, eventually, doing so might lead to this being an epic tale of many, many words. Requiring much more patience and effort than I may be willing to give.

Do you ever have this experience? You start a story. It’s going great and then something gets in the way and you begin to wonder if you can actually pull it off. If you can get your head around all of the details and the possibilities and the realities of the story itself?

If you do … what do you do about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts because I have to figure out how to finish this tale that I really, really like and do it right.

DNF or Scathing One-Star Review?

-Berthold Gambrel

H.R.R. Gorman and Peter Martuneac were discussing this the other day, and I thought it was an interesting question for writers. Would you rather a reader:

  1. Give up on your book only a little way in (say around 5%) and never say anything about it…
  2. Or, they read the whole book, but give it a scathing one-star review?

Personally, I’d prefer the latter, especially if the review can be thorough and document what the reader didn’t like. Reviews that consist of nothing more than “I hate this,” or similar are useless. But if somebody really tore into it, and explained in detail why they didn’t like this character or that plot element… well, that could actually be useful in future writing projects.

What do you think?

Through Query Hell on a Lark

I am quite content to be an amateur author and self-publisher of speculative fiction stories. I enjoy everything I do as a writer and publisher, and avoid everything I don’t. And if I don’t make much money doing so, I don’t lose any either. So, I’m happy. But maybe a little bored.

Back when I published my first three novels, in 2015, there seemed to be the potential for something to happen. For lightning to strike. What did I know? In 2022 I do know. And what I know is that I’ll not be missing any buses to fame and fortune if I hold off self-publishing my new novel for a year while I try selling it to a traditional publisher.

A year and a half or so, ago Mark Paxson wrote about his efforts to get his novel The Dime traditionally published, You can read about his journey in these posts:

I’m embarking on that same journey through what is often called “Query Hell” more or less as a lark. Not having been hatched yesterday, I know that my odds of selling my novel are pretty close to zero. However, I think there is something to be said for simply having tried.

One motivating factor for me was that the British SFF publisher Gollancz had, in June, opened a one month long submission window for manuscripts by unagented authors. Since I wrapped up my novel in June, I researched how a manuscript should be formatted, and sent mine out to them, along with a cover letter and synopsis, as requested. I gather that they expected to receive 1,000 plus manuscripts during the month and hope to get back to everyone within 6 to 9 months. Which is fine, since it gives me a nice 6 to 9 month window to find an agent for my novel while I await word of its fate, with no temptation to fold early and self-publish the story.

For agents, I found a list of 141 agents accepting science fiction on the web site reedsy here:

I went down the list, copying only the info on agents who are accepting queries and open to the works of non-published writers. I then viewed the websites of their agencies to see their profiles to get a feel for what they were like and what type of stories they were looking to take on. I found 31 agents that I thought worth querying and rated each as to how promising they struck me. I also noted how they wanted the queries – letter only, letter & 5 pages of the manuscript, or letter and 10 pages, or if they used the query tracker web app instead. All this was the work of a few hours over two days.

Then I researched on how to write a query letter. There are plenty of guides online and on YouTube that tell you not only how to do it, but what not to do as well. Alexa Donna has a number of good YouTube videos that you can find here on the entire process:

I wrote a hundred variations of it (just a guess) before settling on my current one.

I also wrote a 1,000 word synopsis of the novel for Gollancz and any agents wanting to see one.

In short, I think I did my homework. Or as much of it as necessary. I was never a lad for homework.

While there is no reason not to send queries out to everyone on the list all at once, I’m only sending out four a month. Sent out the first four yesterday. Better to savor the joy of the journey. And, with having to wait on Gollancz before I could self-publish the book anyway, I figure that I might as well spread out the query process, renewing my hope every month with a new batch of query letters. We’ll see how that goes…

Though I read Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness in high school, half a century ago, one image remains…

The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line… we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn’t even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush… In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen.”

I am quite sure Conrad was thinking about querying when he created this image.. Ah, the romance!

All that remains is for me to mutter, “The horror. The horror” six months from now.

I know that readers of this blog have gone through the same process, and no doubt some have succeeded in finding publishers. And there are probably others who are considering giving it a try. So how did you find the experience? Do you have any suggestions for others who would follow you down this path?

Speaking At A Conference

There is a slim chance I might speak at a local writing event in November. Slim because I’m terrified of public speaking. But a chance because I am committed to overcoming my fears.

I have an idea for what I would want to talk about, but I’m curious. If you had to fill an hour, including time for questions, and could talk about anything related to writing, what would you want to talk about?